Don’t miss these 10 design choices that last beyond the trends, plus four principles to embrace when making your own design decisions!
Today’s post is a little different (sometimes, different is good, right?!). Instead of a tutorial or a project or a reveal or even decorating tips, I wanted to share a bit about design longevity. So often the push to go with the trends is powerful… And while I enjoy updating things along the way, design decisions that last are definitely my preference.
More than that, design and decorating should be for you and your family, not to please others. So today, I thought it would be fun to share 10 design decisions (that may not have been popular with everyone who saw them on the internet 😉) that I don’t regret… even years and years later.
Favorite Design Decisions (years later!)
1 – Marble Countertops
We opted for real Carrara marble countertops in our kitchen and several bathrooms. Do the etch? Yes. Have they scratched and chipped some? Yes. Have they stained? Not at all. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. They were cheaper than most quartz options and possess a movement and beauty that man-made materials simply cannot match.
2 – Painted Kitchen Cabinets
Speaking of our kitchen… Trends (like painted vs stained cabinets) come and go, and while I love stained wood cabinets, too, I’m so pleased we painted these cabinets 6 years ago and have never once regretted the decision. If your cabinetry is a wood species or stain color you don’t like, painting the cabinets is a great facelift option.
3 – Painted Brick Exterior
About 10 years ago, we painted the outside of our 75 year old home a medium-toned gray. The brick was stained and not my favorite color, and the fresh paint breathed new life into the home. We actually don’t live there anymore, but I was recently driving through our old neighborhood and saw the house, and it is still beautiful!
4 – Light, Neutral Paint Colors
This is a perfect example of trends that come and go, and I realize that right now bold, saturated colors are popular… but I’ve found that light colors bring me more mental space and creativity. And choosing light, neutral colors (especially for huge spaces like two-story entryways) can be a cost-effective choice that allows flexibility in style.
We put Agreeable Gray in our home seven years ago, and I still love it today! It’s a beautiful blend of warm/cool tones, too, which is an added bonus.
5 – Not White Grout
I have never regretted not using white grout. Even though white grout can be beautiful, I simply cannot keep it looking clean and fresh. Light gray grout is my not-so secret solution to keeping tile looking beautiful for years.
6 – (Engineered) Wood Floors
My husband and I grew up in old homes. They weren’t particularly fancy, but they did all have real hardwood floors. When we moved into our 1990’s home seven years ago, I knew I wanted to replace the tile and carpet combo that it had, but solid floating hardwoods would have been hugely expensive and complicated to install over the slab foundation.
We opted for engineered hardwoods (which are basically a real wood layer over a plywood base and can be laid on a slab), and we loved them so much that we used the same ones (in a different color) at our ranch house (as seen above) a few years later.
7 – (Some) Painted Furniture
Despite my love of real wood floors, I love a mix of wood and painted furniture. Don’t misunderstand me: there are definitely some pieces (like this one) I would rather not cover up with paint!
But for pieces that are badly damaged or a wood color I don’t love, paint is a beautiful solution to bringing new life to a well-made old piece of furniture. I’ve been painting furniture since I was in high school, and I’m still doing it today!
8 – A Bed in front of a Window
Furniture placement may seem out of place on this list of major design choices, but I wanted to open the conversation to more than renovation materials. The truth is, we tried to fit our old furniture (including a tall 4-poster bed) from our last last house into our master when we moved 7 years ago… and it simply wasn’t right for that space.
The layout of our master in this home felt SO MUCH better with the bed on the wall with the windows, which meant changing out our huge four poster for something that allowed light through the headboard. We made the change almost 5 years ago, and I’m so glad we did!
9 – Wood Wall Treatments
I love molding and trim work and full wall treatments; they add elegance to a space and improve home value without adding “stuff” to your life. This molding we did on our fireplace renovation is my favorite, but I love all the wall treatments we’ve done over the years.
10 – Marble Bathroom Tile
The concerns about marble countertops were echoed by many when I chose marble floor and wall tiles in our bathrooms. But more than 10 years after first using marble in a bathroom, I continue to choose it again and again.
Making Design Choices that Last
While I’m a firm believer that design is a personal choice (homes should be as unique as the people who live in them!), I found a few general takeaways in reflection:
1 – Go for timeless, natural materials
Lesson learned from: marble countertops, wood floors, marble bathrooms
I know budget is always a consideration, but natural materials like marble and wood that have been used for centuries (hello, Rome!) are generally a good choice.
2 – Find your happy neutral
Lesson learned from: light, neutral paint colors and not-white grout
Cool colors were all the rage 8 years ago, while warm ones are creeping in now… But I know my favorite neutral is right in the middle. I like warm gray walls and warm gray grout. Both are easy to clean and go with anything. Your happy neutral might be different than mine, but once you find it, don’t second guess yourself based on trends.
3 – Preserve good bones, but don’t be afraid to reface them
Lesson learned from: painted brick exterior, painted cabinets, painted furniture
As every grandpa everywhere loves to say, “The just don’t make them like they used to.” Plus, restoring something is often more eco and economically friendly. 😉 If you would like something better with a fresh look (whether it’s a brick exterior or an antique dresser), do it! If can repaint, refinish, or restore something rather than starting from scratch, don’t be afraid to go for it.
4 – Embrace the space you have
Lesson learned from: wood wall treatments and beds in front of windows
It can be easy to see beautiful interiors and want to replicate that in your home. While that’s certainly not a bad thing, I think it’s helpful to remember that each space is unique. I love formal, elegant molding, but it would never go well in our ranch house. I loved our old bedroom furniture, but it made our current master bedroom feel small and cramped. Learning to see and embrace your space – and then make it beautiful – can make all the difference.
I’d love to know: what are some design choices you are thankful you made?